Psalm 73:16-17 NIV
When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood….
The only thing that people lose more than their keys or glasses is their perspective. Seeing our lives from the Father’s vantage point is a deep, ongoing, work of the Holy Spirit. And the process of seeing ourselves and everyone around us from God’s perspective can be nurtured; we can partner with the Spirit in keeping a divine perspective winning in our lives.
The entire Bible resounds with this important announcement: the work of awakening in the human heart can be long, slow, and incremental. Psalm 73 is a psalm dedicated to documenting the process of a heart that has been awakened becoming awakened once again. In fact, it can read like an awakening movie plot playing itself out—hero is strong, hero is weak, hero overcomes old weakness revealed by new challenges, hero comes out stronger than before.
In the beginning our hero, a faithful yet wobbling believer, is struggling to remain firm in faith and hope. A low or high level despair has taken over, and the psalmist’s words have been hijacked in the process. With an honest confession leading the way, the writer says, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Ps. 73:2-3). Let’s bring this into our modern day, post-Acts 2 reality.
In verses 4-14, the writer clarifies the conundrum: people who don’t follow God have it better than those who do—why? They thrive, we suffer. God doesn’t seem to mind this psalm spending quite a bit of time on the writer’s deep wrestling, and nor should we. Honesty is a prerequisite to experiencing the fullness of the Spirit’s presence, and unless we know and say what we’re really battling with on the inside, we can never fully surrender the conundrum to Christ. Not all who struggle (to mirror a phrase from J.R.R. Tolkien) are lost.
The writer is writing for us all, so we can personalize the pain in this psalm. We feel alone. We lose our way. We want to do the right things, but the things we hate we end up doing (Rom. 7:15). We envy. We wish. We prefer. We lust. We fear. We wonder, question, doubt, struggle, and sometimes find it offensive that we who choose the path of life seem to get the raw end of the deal when it comes to trouble.
Chaos-Thinking can be distorting and oppressive. We begin to entertain errant thoughts that reinforce our worst fears—all this devotion has been for nothing; all of it is meaningless. And where is the Holy Spirit in all of that for the Christian? According to the Bible, the Spirit is in us, and with us, even as we spin our wheels in the mud of wailing and complaining for God’s good and right to subvert the wrong that seems to be our daily portion. Into the chaos, into the brooding meaninglessness, the Spirit moves to bring order, to bring life, to bring light.
It is here that verses 16-17 unveil a powerful principle in our ongoing receiving of the Holy Spirit. “When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood….” Our hero puts himself/herself in the position to encounter the Spirit by entering “the sanctuary” to experience the presence of God. Worship happens, and when it does, from the heart, it’s like our head gets a spiritual shake: “What was I thinking?” we say. Thank God for the Holy Spirit, who leads us to even consider our thinking might be off, askew, problematic.
Putting ourselves in the path of God’s presence by entering the sanctuary of our daily meeting with God opens us up to the Spirit’s perspective. It is in the place of worship that the Spirit helps our minds apprehend reality. Worship passionately and frequently as you walk with the Holy Spirit. In the midst of acclaiming God for his person, goodness, and love, you will find your perspective slowly changing to become the perspective of your Father in heaven.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I know the power of envy, and how I can turn my focus to it quickly when I am in a time of challenge or fear. Come, Holy Spirit, let there be a fresh awakening in my heart this week as I enter into the sanctuaries given to me for the purpose of worship. Teach me to never withhold worship, especially in my times of greatest challenge. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Can you remember a time you felt you had lost your perspective, only to find that clarity and trust returned when you drew near to God in worship?
For the awakening,